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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 July, 2005, 03:26 GMT 04:26 UK
Canada fines 'racist' aboriginal
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A prominent aboriginal figure in Canada has been found guilty of hate crimes, after making anti-Semitic remarks.

David Ahenakew is a former leader of Canada's national native organisation, the Assembly of First Nations.

Two years ago told a newspaper reporter that "Jews were a disease that needed to be cleaned up".

Ahenakew, 71, has been fined 1000 Canadian dollars (471). He rejected the ruling, and said it demonstrated a bias against native people in Canada's

court system.

He called the charges ridiculous and said he will appeal against the Saskatchewan's court decision.

"I do not mean to trivialise the aura of the Holocaust and the pain of what happened to the Jewish people in Germany and elsewhere," he said.

"However, Canadians also need to honestly discuss the cultural genocide perpetuated on the First Nations people in this country," he said, the AFP news agency reported.

'Dehumanising' comments

The Canadian Jewish Congress welcomed the guilty verdict, calling Ahenakew's statements "vile" and "toxic manifestations" of hatred.

In December 2002, Ahenakew told a Saskatchewan newspaper that "the Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to [World War II]. That's how Hitler came in".

The judge in his case called his remarks dehumanising and said they were precisely the kind of statements that Canada's hate crimes laws are designed to address.

The former chief spent many years fighting for human rights as a prominent leader in Canada's aboriginal community.

His anti-Semitic remarks came as a surprise and disappointment to many, says the BBC's Ian Gunn in Vancouver.


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